Dallas – ‘Tis the season for the 2021 Medical City Children’s Hospital kids teaching kids® 21-Day Challenge. Now in its 11th year, this innovative nutrition education initiative was developed in partnership with the Texas Restaurant Foundation, Texas ProStart culinary programs and school districts across North Texas to encourage healthy snacking habits in elementary school children.

This year, 15 North Texas school districts are participating in the annual challenge, developed to help kids form life-long healthy eating habits by reaching for nutritious snack options, rich in whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables. The 21-Day Challenge will run September 22-October 12, 2021 and January 19-February 8, 2022.

A recipe book with a “Seasonal Snacks” theme offers kid-friendly healthy recipes and encourages hands-on learning. The healthy recipes featured in the fully digital 2021 recipe book were created by culinary high school students especially for younger children in kindergarten through fifth grade.  

“This year’s theme is particularly appropriate because nutritious eating is important every season of the year,” says Jessica O’Neal, CEO of Medical City Children’s Hospital. “Encouraging and establishing healthy habits early in life can positively impact the whole family and create healthier tomorrows for our entire community.”

Students document the healthy snacks they make for 21 consecutive days and families are surveyed at the end of the challenge about changes in their children’s snacking habits. Results in the 2020 kids teaching kids annual report show that 64% of participating students reported trying a new fruit or vegetable, chip consumption decreased by 21.6% and soda consumption dropped 4.8%. These positive changes can help prevent chronic health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.

To further encourage school participation, the 21-Day Challenge also features a competition within each school district, enabling participating schools to earn funds from the program’s corporate supporters. In the 2021-22 school year, the program plans to distribute more than $50,000 to North Texas school districts, including scholarships for graduating high school students who participate in culinary programs. Kroger, Reliant, Dairy MAX, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas have joined as the program’s corporate sponsors, helping Medical City Children’s Hospital in promoting the importance of healthy eating.

In addition to student-created recipes and demonstration videos, this year’s program adds interactive elements to address mental and physical wellness activities. To promote these positive behaviors, kids teaching kids partnered with the Texas PTA and the Texas Association on Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD) to encourage activities that affect the whole child.

For more information about the Medical City Children’s Hospital kids teaching kids program, visit kids-teaching-kids.com.